Another kind of vacation

We’re not getting a full-fledged summer vacation this year. No Utah. No Maine. No Denver. No Pacific Northwest. No Italy. Luke will be working in some kind of internship this summer — TBD — and, before that begins, he’s headed to Italy with a buddy for a week or 10 days. So the family’s big summer to-do is out.

That is, I guess, the cost of the kid getting older, busier and more independent. Sucks for him. Sucks for us.

When we found out several weeks ago that our annual adventure was not going to be so annual, Mary Jo and I insisted, as much as you can insist to a 21-year-old kid, that Luke take his spring break with us. Luke, being Luke, agreed.

After putting off a decision on where to go for way too long, and after shooting down various places in Florida (“too spring breaky” and “too hot”), Phoenix (“too city-like”) and other locales, we decided (at that point, we had to decide) on an old standby. And, so, I’m tapping this out on the deck of a rented condo on Hilton Head Island, SC.

It’s not too hot here, not too much city, there’s definitely not too many spring breakers (I swear I bring the average age down a couple notches every time I step foot on the island) and it’s close enough where we didn’t have to spend thousands on airfare, yet far enough where we can consider it at least a mini-vacation.

Hilton Head is a different place, in good ways, a place we’ve considered as our next stop. The weather’s fine, the beaches are as good as you can get on this part of the East Coast, it’s pretty and it’s familiar. The problem with Hilton Head this summer is that it’s just not our standard family vacation. We like going new places, getting outdoors and hiking around, taking in things we don’t normally see.

Here, we’ve walked the beach. We’ve kicked back. We’ve taken naps. We’ve watched a couple movies at night. For relaxation — which, god knows, we all need — it has been great. But for an adventure, it falls somewhere north of a trip to Kroger — which we’ve done plenty while we’ve been here, too — and a little south of a spin on I-285. (Which, by the way, I’m glad we weren’t on this week. I just cleaned my garage.)

This won’t be our last getaway this year, but it’ll be our last as a family, I’d guess, until our Christmas trip to Cincinnati. Mary Jo and I are talking about a long weekend in New Mexico in a few months. Though we haven’t considered West as a direction in our Next Stop Tour … who knows? We’ll see.

Still, for this year, for the entire family, Hilton Head is going to have to do. (Even Brodie and foster dog Lexi are with us here, snoozing in the sun, sliding across the fake wood floors in the condo, terrorizing the old folks in the neighborhood.) For this year.

One of the first things we did when we arrived last Saturday, something that Mary Jo and I talked about before we left, was to sit Luke down and remind him that he’s always welcome on summer vacations. That it’s really not a family vacation without him. That we’ll take one every summer, together, for as long as he’s willing and we’re able.

They’re important. They’re affirming. They’re tradition.

Luke, being Luke, nodded his head. I’d like to think that, at least for a few more good summers, he’ll make time in his schedule to take time with his folks. We may have to up our vacation game — Europe, back to Hawaii, Asia maybe, Africa — to entice him. But it’ll be well worth the hassle and the effort. We’re getting plenty of relaxation this summer anyway.

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